A Child?s Preferences and Child Custody

Posted by jeffrey de roberts on March 12th, 2018

In divorce court when judges speak on issues with regards to children a common standard used as the standard of the best interest of the child. In addition, depending on a number of factors a child is asked to express their wishes with regards to specific aspects in a divorce. This article will discuss how much weight is put on the child’s wishes when determining child custody.

In some courts the judge will consider the child’s wishes in order to come up with a child custody arrangement. As a result, for some a child’s preferences may be a significant factor in determining child custody. When a court makes a decision with regards to child custody it is important to realize the factors that are considered with regards to the child’s wishes. In a child custody hearing the judge may ask to hear the testimony of a child in order to assist the court in determining the ruling of child custody. It is important to realize that by taking the child’s preferences into consideration the court is actually using the best interests of the child standard. A court will consider the following factors to determine whether they take the child’s wishes into consideration:

  • The age of the child
  • The child’s maturity
  • The child’s ability to make an informed, reasonable decision

A number of factors come into play when determining how much weight must be put on a child’s wishes, some of these factors include the following:

  • Domestic violence - when a parent is accused or convicted of domestic violence a child may not wish to reside with that parent. As a result, a court will likely consider the child’s wishes as a significant factor in determining whether or not a parent should get legal custody of a child if the child witnessed or was a victim of domestic violence.
  • Lack of a relationship - the court may listen to a child’s testimony through a guardian ad litem with regards the child’s relationship with the parents. It must be noted though that courts will consider lack of a relationship as evidence of a child’s desire to reside with one parent over the other, however, most courts will allow a parent an opportunity to amend the parental bond despite past issues.
  • Siblings - a court will take into consideration testimony with regards to the child’s preference to live with one parent if a child does not want to spend time away from his or her siblings. This is because it may be determined that it is in the child’s best interest to be with his or her siblings.

To answer the question as to how much weight a court puts on the child’s preferences in determining child custody to a parent, the basic answer is that it depends on a number of circumstances with regards to the parent-child relationship as well as past forms of abuse. However, a child’s preference rarely has significant weight and ultimately the child custody decision is determined by the court.  For legal advice on child custody and child support in Syracuse NY contact professionals.

Resource Box: Gaining the custody of a child in case of divorce is a lengthy and complicated process. The author recommends the DeRoberts Law Firm to people looking for child support & divorce attorneys in Syracuse NY.


jeffrey de roberts

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jeffrey de roberts
Joined: March 12th, 2018
Articles Posted: 1

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